Picture a healthy green lawn: perfect for lounging, great for ball games and cookouts, a real asset to your home. But did you know that your lawn – and how you take care of it – can also help the environment? Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, who find it a rich source of insects, worms and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.

Caring for your lawn properly can both enhance its appearance and contribute to its environmental benefits. You don’t have to be an expert to grow a healthy lawn. Just keep in mind that the secret is to work with nature. This means creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests. It means setting realistic goals for your lawn, whether you or a professional lawn care service will be doing the work. And, if you choose to use pesticides, it means using them with care to ensure that you get the greatest benefit with the lowest risk.

Caring for your lawn in an environmentally sensible way can have a bigger impact than you think. Your lawn is only a small piece of land, but all the lawns across the country cover a lot of ground: it is, in fact, likely to be your largest garden, by a lot. A job that size requires considerable planning.

To start, think about lawn care as a preventive health care program. It’s always best to establish a plan that prevents future problems while taking care of any current issues. Remember, a healthy lawn can out-compete most weeds, survive insect attacks and fend off disease before they can take hold. Remember, also that this isn’t a “one size fits all” situation; your lawn care program should be tailored to local conditions: the amount of rainfall you get, for example, and the type of soil that you have.

All successful plans will address some common issues, though. Make sure your plan has actions that will:

  • Develop healthy soil.
    Include grass varieties that thrive in your local climate.
  • Include mowing high, often and with a clean, sharp blade.
  • Provide needed water at the right times: water deeply but not too often.
  • Eliminate and prevent excessive thatch build-up, and
  • Include reasonable goals – results take time.

Article edited from u201cHealthy Lawn, Healthy Environment,u201d published by the EPA.

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